You may be unhappy with your portfolio's performance recently, but you're not as blue as this guy.
Don't adjust your screens, folks. Stan Jones, Montana's libertarian candidate for Senate, turned himself blue by drinking a homemade concoction made by electrically charging two wires in a glass of water. Why? To protect against disease caused by a Y2K shortage of antibiotics, of course. Ironically, Jones has given himself a skin condition called argyria, which leaves him permanently blue-grey.
The candidate has ceased swallowing the solution for fear he'd shrink down to three apples high. Sources say Papa Smurf was spotted in Missoula with a "Jones in '02" bumper sticker.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- EMC Squared
- Discussion Board of the Day: EMC
- Quote of Note
- Alcoa Foils Results
- Shameless Plug: Love the Ones You're With
- Schering-Ploughed Under
- Quick Takes: eBay, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Philip Morris, more
- Techies Win Sack Race!
- And Finally...
Did you think you'd see the day EMC
EMC announced preliminary third-quarter results, and it's not pretty. Revenue of $1.25 billion is a marginal improvement over last year's September period, and the $0.02-a-share loss is twice as large as the red penny Wall Street was looking for. What's worse, while analysts were expecting EMC to return to profitability in the final quarter of the year, that now appears unlikely. The company will also lay off 7% of its workforce.
Don't act so surprised. Until the economy improves, companies just aren't going to hit up EMC with storage orders the way they did when revenue and operating profits peaked in 2000. That's a fact. While EMC's competition has jockeyed for position during the industry's downtime, both the company and the stock will see brighter days once corporate spending flicks the switch.
Until then, the only thing EMC has effectively stored lately is cash. With $5.5 billion in cash and investments, the company also announced a 250-million share buyback. That's just a dip in EMC's greenbacks mother lode, but if it's carried out, it will wipe clean about 11% of the shares outstanding. With more than half of the company's market cap spoken for by its cash position, the shares offer a tempting consideration for the patient value hunter.
But how long will investors have to wait for their faith to be rewarded? When you're dealing with storage, that patience might have to be stocked away for a considerable amount of time.
What's in store for the storage industry? Is EMC gaining or falling behind during the sector's lull? All this and more -- in the EMC discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." -- Albert Einstein
It's not a shiny, happy world right now for Alcoa
Including a $23 million after-tax charge, Alcoa earned $193 million, down from last year's $339 million. On a per-share basis, that's $0.23 versus $0.39. Excluding the charge, it met expectations of $0.26, not that that's any meaningful measure of strength for this aching company.
Unsurprisingly, Alcoa's sales have also dropped off compared to last year. For the third quarter, its revenues were $5.22 billion from last year's Q3 sales of $5.51 billion.
Alcoa's in the crosshairs of aluminum prices that are near three-year lows, along with excess capacity worldwide for aluminum. China's making lots of aluminum now, and Russia's ramping up production as well. Put that scenario alongside the economic doldrums felt by many of Alcoa's major customers, and it's hardly a picture of prosperity.
Two of Alcoa's important demand sources, the aerospace and telecommunications industries, are themselves struggling and aren't placing orders like they used to. In an effort to stay lean, Alcoa has scaled back its aluminum production this year. It has already closed one plant for good and is scheduled to shut down another by year's end. The company's hunkering down and hoping things improve, and soon. Unfortunately, it can't stem the excess global production that's combining with weakened demand to drive aluminum prices down.
Once manufacturing starts showing some real strength, Alcoa's results should improve. However, it'll take quite a while for the glut of aluminum to work its way through the market. Until that happens, aluminum prices will remain at their rock-bottom worst. It's likely that shares of Alcoa, close to a 52-week low, will, too.
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The seemingly unending stream of bad news for Schering-Plough
The main reason for the warning is the expected shortfall in sales of the allergy drug Claritin, which raked in $3.2 billion in revenue last year. With patent protection expiring in December, Schering is moving Claritin from prescription to over-the-counter status in order to compete with generic equivalents. Apparently, sales of its new allergy prescription drug Clarinex are not yet taking up the slack.
Schering's shares were off about 4% today and now sit at a five-year low. The company is still extremely profitable, with a solid balance sheet and an attractive dividend yield of about 2.9%. Its always-risky drug cycle is buffeted somewhat by sales of sunscreen, foot care, and animal health products.
But investors will have to exercise patience. The company expects growth to return in 2004 to the tune of about 20%, and "continuing to accelerate in 2005," but there may not be a whole lot of good news in the meantime.
You gotta love the news out of DaimlerChrysler
Looks like eBay
Saying, "I did not want the media attention currently surrounding me to distract from the important work of the NYSE," Martha Stewart resigned from the board of the exchange yesterday. Shares of her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Techies Win Sack Race!
In local news, The Motley Fool techies beat the Consumer Services division by less than one second in a "Dizzy Bat Relay Race" between the two. The race entailed two teams of seven Fools each spinning seven times with their foreheads pressed against a baseball bat anchored on the playing field, then hopping in a burlap sack for 20 yards. Too close to call in real time, the winner was not declared until French judges Al "Stinker" Silber and Bob "Blindfold" Bobala reviewed the videotape. With the best-of-three series now tied 1-1, representatives for the two sides are negotiating the specifics of the championship race.
Today on Fool.com: Whitney Tilson says we're in dip No. 2 of a recession.... Putting non-publicly traded stock in your IRA, in our Tax Center.... In Fool's School, should you sell when your stock jumps?
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim